Thursday, September 26, 2013

Fighting in Zamboanga

The Sulu gunmen who intruded into Sabah were allied with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) under the leadership of Nur Misuari. Since they were neutralized in Lahad Datu, I had speculated that we will continue to see trouble, whether in Sabah or in Mindanao.
 
I was right. On September 09, 2013, about two hundred armed fighters – supposedly MNLF rebels – attacked Zamboanga, a major southern Philippine city that has one million residents. Hundreds were dead or injured, civilians were taken hostage and houses burned to the ground.













Image credit: http://metro.co.uk/2013/09/12/gallery-muslim-rebels-attack-philippines-city-3965920/residents-scramble-to-fetch-water-to-douse-burning-houses-caused-after-a-clash-between-government-soldiers-and-muslim-rebels-from-the-mnlf-in-zamboanga-city/












Image credit: http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/regions/09/08/13/2-dead-4-hurt-mnlf-clash-zamboanga-city











Image credit: http://www.mb.com.ph/afp-says-those-in-zamboanga-are-rogue-mnlf/










Image credit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-24079198












Image credit: http://1-ps.googleusercontent.com/x/www.nst.com.my/w1.nst.com.my/polopoly_fs/1.353909.1378901236!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_454/image.jpg.pagespeed.ce.izl10PPe2P.jpg
 










Image credit: http://www.sunstar.com.ph/breaking-news/2013/09/12/government-warns-mnlf-end-zambo-standoff-302848

Malaysians will remember that our Prime Minister Najib Razak stayed in the background – presumably for personal safety reasons – when the Lahad Datu "invasion" took place.
 
In contrast, Philippine President Benigno Aquino was on the ground on September 13 to take direct command of operations. Four thousand five hundred soldiers were deployed to the city to flush them out.
 
In seventeen days of fighting, 110 insurrectionists were killed with 117 others taken into custody. Eighteen soldiers and police and fifteen civilians lost their lives and at least 114 were wounded.
 
The Philippines are not afraid to deploy all necessary firepower to annihilate the rebel threat. Unlike the Malaysian authorities, they didn't make requests. Neither did they negotiate.
 
This part of the country is dubbed as the alphabet soup of insurgents. Besides, the MNLF, there are also the villainous Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, the defunct jihadists Jemaah Islamiyah, the communist New People’s Army, and the MNLF splinter group the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
 
In fact, MILF had hammered out a peace deal with Manila last year. It was believed that the accord had caused ructions through a redistribution of power and even upset traditional relations.
 
It was also largely behind the Sabah insurgency earlier this year after a minor Sultan – insisting he be recognized as the Sultan of Sulu – decided to re-assert his traditional claims over the neighboring East Malaysian state.
 
As a prelude to the current violence in Mindanao, the MNLF had also threatened to repeat its claims over Sabah and Sarawak, along with large swathes of the Southern Philippines. Misuari took a big gamble to launch this assault.
 
Now he and his followers who survive the bloody offensive will probably spend the rest of their lives behind bars, an ignoble end for the former University of the Philippines lecturer in political science who risked all, including the lives of many thousands he had once sought to protect.

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